Tuesday, 20 March 2018

Book Review - Simon Vs The Homo Sapiens Agenda

My first "You Pick My Next Read" write-up. It's taken a while to post as I didn't want to overwhelm you all with a lot of blog posts. Plus, with me going on a small blog holiday over Easter and a few weeks in April, I want to pace myself and not do what I normally do to myself and turn my brain into a mental pretzel (work has been doing this to me a lot lately so I didn't want The Pewter Wolf to go the same way...)

So, my first vote at the beginning of the month and you picked Simon Vs The Homo Sapiens Agenda by Becky Albertalli. Which I kinda wanted to read for past few months. I have been told since this book's release to read it as "You'll love it, Andrew!". But was a bit intimidated by the buzz round it. Bit like why I haven't read The Hate U Give by Angie Thomas and The Book of Dust: La Belle Sauvage by Philip Pullman, though I REALLY want to. It seemed like now I felt ready to try it, and with the movie coming out next month (and everyone loving it from what I have heard), I was really happy this won.

Simon Spier is sixteen and trying to figure his life out. He goes to school, has friends, has a cool family but has a secret - he's gay and doesn't know how to tell people. When someone leaves an anonymous message on the town's tumblr that they're gay, Simon starts to send anonymous to him and slowly, Simon begins to fall in love with the mysterious Blue.

But when one of his classmates finds the emails and begins to blackmail him, Simon has to find things out: who Blue is, a way to come out and to find out who is he and own it...

Before you say anything, yes, internet. You were right. I should have read this sooner. I should have. Because OH! MY! GOD!!!

If I had this when I was a teen, coming to terms with my own sexual identity, this would have been My Book. Yes, I had Harry Potter and Twilight and His Dark Materials, but this would have been My Book. I would have read and read this so many times and I think this would have, maybe, help me come to terms with myself sooner and been braver in owning my truth.

So yeah... I adore this book and I know I will be rereading this in the future. I adore Simon and fell instantly for him. I loved his friends, even when I felt like they were getting the raw end of the deal (Leah, am looking at you - but we're going to talk about you later). I loved reading his family. I loved the romantic which wasn't heavy handed. I liked the mystery element over who Blue was. I loved the humour, the writing - everything in this book worked.

Even Martin and the blackmail - which I loathed and hated, and if you read most of my Twitter feed, I was spitting venom over - I liked reading because it put a spotlight on this and I liked the fallout and how Martin reacted after realising the damage he caused. Which made me love Simon even more because of how he coped with the fallout.

If I have one tiny critique, it's that I wish there was a moment in the book where I could tell who was who. I kept getting muddled over if Simon had one sister or two (and who were they?) and if Leah and Nick (Simon's best friends) were related or not (they're not).

But, I love this book. I think Becky might be an author I will be binge reading/instant buy from now on. And with me having The Upside of Unrequited on my kindle and the "sequel" of Simon, Leah on the Offbeat (this is why I think Leah had a bit of a rough time as we have her story to come) out in May, a novel she co-wrote with Adam Silvera out later this year and the movie of Simon coming out next month (please don't suck!) and my intake of Oreos might increase (if you've read the book, you understand), my bank account is gonna hate me by the end of the year! So yes, am late to the party, but so glad am here now!

Friday, 16 March 2018

Shatter Me Contest!

CONTEST TIME!!! And it's a good'un! I promise!

After years of hype and excitement in the US, a UK publisher - Electric Monkey - finally picked up the rights to publish the Shatter Me series in the UK. And not only are we getting the trilogy, Tahereh Mafi is writing an extra three books within this world as TV studios write a TV pilot based on the world.

For those who aren't aware of this series, Shatter Me follows Juliette, a girl who has been held prisoner in a cell without human contact for over 200 days. Why? Because her touch is lethal. Anyone who touches her will fall red within seconds. If she wasn't a threat, she would be the perfect weapon. But something expected happens that no one sees coming...

A boy touches her. And he survived her touch...

The series follows her journey from there, continuing through Unravel Me and Ignite Me. The fourth book in the series, Restore Me, sees Juliette and those who survive thinking the war they fought in is over. How very wrong they are...

If that doesn't wet your appetite, here's a trailer to feast your eyes on...

Get it? Feast your eyes on... yeah, I'll see myself out...

Anyway, to celebrate the release of the series so far coming to UK bookshops, the lovely people at Electric Monkey have given me the series so far to give away! One lucky winner will win a copy of Shatter Me, Unravel Me, Ignite Me & Restore Me

Ok, the boring info-dump time! For you to enter contest, fill in the form below. That's it. Nothing more than that. Although, heads up, this is a UK addresses only contest, and this contest will end on Thursday 22nd March 2018 at 7pm. The winner will be chosen at random via random.org and will be announced on Twitter. Once done, will email the winner for details for the books can be posted to them as soon as the publisher can. 

With that out of the way, good luck and may the odds be ever in your favour. 

Wednesday, 14 March 2018

Reading Some Kindle Samplers (Again)

Ok, I did this a few weeks ago and I kinda enjoyed doing it (here is my first attempt at this), and with still a stupid amount of Kindle Samples on my iPhone's Kindle App, I decided I wanted to do it again.

Basically, it's me reading the whole sample or a small section of the sample. Some are entire chapters, others are just a few pages due to the book's length. So was going to read them and go with my gut reactions to them.

So let's get the weird party started!

DOWN BY CONTACT by Santino Hassell
(Goodreads Link)
I read the first book in the series - Illegal Contact - last year via NetGalley and I gobbled this up. It came at the right time for me. It was light, fluffy, but there was an edge to it that I quite liked. So, when I saw this was on Amazon, I downloaded the sampler and read it, thinking it would be the same fun read I wanted. It was following a side character I liked reading in the previous and this promised angst. But... I don't know. I didn't finish reading the first chapter. Maybe it was my mood, but but I didn't click with this in the same way that I did with Illegal Contact. I can't figure out why, but I was reading it going "This isn't working. Why isn't this working for me?". So, as much as I wanted to enjoy and want to read this, am holding fire on this. Maybe skipping this due to what I read.

THE CAT WHO TAILED A THIEF by Lilian Jackson Braun
(Goodreads Link)
Now, I have read a few books in the series in my past. I have, before I started this blog, read The Cat Who Knew Shakespeare and The Cat Who Talked Turkey and I have read (and reviewed) The Cat Who Saw Red. I do have another title in the series that I bought when the series went through a sale - The Cat Who Went Underground. But, the prices of all these ahem gone up to £3 barring this title and it intrigues me. Sadly, I didn't make it through the sampler. Not because it was bad, but because I didn't enjoy it in the way I hoped I would. I feel that the bit I read felt a bit stiff in language. Maybe it's because I want something to grab me by the throat recently (am going through a fantasy slump at time of writing this) and this is more Sunday afternoon cosy crime. It doesn't appeal to my mood now, though I know I will be reading The Cat Who Went Underground by the end of the year...

GROOSHAM GRANGE by Anthony Horowitz
(Goodreads Link)
People at my new job (how long can I call my current job "new"? Six months?) know I have a blog (hence why I have some control over work's social media) and someone said "I read this years ago when I was younger and you might like it". It is Anthony Horowitz and I do enjoy reading the Alex Rider series (I read Never Say Die last year and I am quite excited to see what he does with James Bond in Forever and A Day) so I knew I was going to like it. And I did, as something light and fluffy. It's not exactly for me (maybe if I was younger, I would hoover this up) but this is fun and can read within a day, but might try and return to Alex Rider and maybe try The Power of Five series...

(Goodreads Link)
I can't remember how I came across - Twitter, me thinks. But once I heard a few sentence from the blurb, I knew I was sold on this book. An asexual black teen trying to figure out life - sign me up! So, when I saw this on Amazon by fluke (it doesn't have a UK publisher, to my knowledge), I downloaded it and read while feeling super tired. I gobbled this sampler up in one sitting. I couldn't stop and when it ended, I was a little annoyed as I wanted more. I didn't want this to end. I am currently trying to find out who is publishing this in the UK as I WANT THIS BOOK ON MY SHELVES, DAMNIT!

(GoodReads Link)
This has bee getting a lot of love on the Book Blogosphere since it's release last year and I have been intrigued over this. When I finally read the sampler (this has been sitting on my iPhone Kindle app for quite a while). It didn't grabbed me like I hoped, not compared to Let's Talk About Love. But there is potential here. I can definitely sense this is something I will enjoy reading, but the start is a tad slow. But I think this might be a book I could love once I found my reading groove.

So, out of the five, which are the ones that call to me. Well, definitely Let's Talk About Love and I think, once I have my reading groove, The Gentleman's Guide to Vice and Virtue. But, with so many books on my TBR, not sure when am going to read them... or buy them for that matter.

Monday, 12 March 2018

Audiobook Review - The Book of Life

Just when you thought I wouldn't be finishing this trilogy before I go on my blog break in early April (I will be talking more about that later this month so hold your horses there), I did it! I FINISHED THIS TRILOGY!!!

Ok, quick history lesson time (again). I first audiobooked the first book in the All Souls trilogy back in 2011 and, while I did like A Discovery of Witches, I decided that I wasn't going to rush into audiobooking the rest of the trilogy, just because. Fast forward to last year and, because I was going through a bit of an audiobook binge, I decided to relisten to A Discovery of Witches and while I think I enjoyed it more the second time round, I wasn't going to rush into reading/audiobooking the rest of the trilogy. There was no rush, but I knew I wanted to. Jump forward a few months later and I bought (due to a hiccup with my Audible credit), both Shadow of Night and Book of Life. Last month, I blitz listening to Shadow of Night and went "Ok, I need a small break before I start Book of Life." ... I didn't even last 24 hours!

So here we are with the third and final book in the All Souls trilogy. Now, seeing as this is the final book in the trilogy, there is a lot of spoilers so sorry if I let something slip. But after the events of Shadow of Night, witch Diana and vampire Matthew time travel back to the present from Elizabethan London, to be reunited with family, friends and loved-ones - barring one heartbreaking exception. But before either can given, they have to deal with crises old and new, the two must from the missing pages of Ashmole 782 and the book itself. But with enemies coming at them from all sides - via politics and revenge - can Diana and Matthew's forbidden love for each other survive...?

I have to admit this that, while I do have problems with this series, I had a really good time getting sucked into the story and this audiobook was no exception. It has the same things I like about it that I do with the Queen of the Tearling trilogy. It was deep, rich with detail, complex and a joy to listen to. I liked returning to these characters and them trying to figure out what they were going to do and how. There's something about this series I thoroughly enjoy.

I was surprised how much I like how the story was broken down. Most of the time, Diana was telling the story but, every now and then, we had a break and the story was told in third people, following Matthew for one reason or another. It made sense to do this and this is something Deborah did in Shadow of Night. 

I did listen the reader of all three audiobooks in the series - Jennifer Ikeda - though the one time my Other Half heard it, he did go "What the hell is that?!". But I think because she had stayed within the whole trilogy, I was used to her and liked how she read it.

I do have problems - don't I always? It seems to come under one thing which is something I have mentioned in every write-up I've written for this trilogy and that is detail. These books are quite long and there's a lot of detail. At times, it can be too much and I wonder on if some details were removed, would it effect the story that much?

Another thing I was a bit "Oh" over. And that was Benjamin. I know he appeared, very very briefly, in Shadow of Night, but it was a blink and you missed it. So when it's revealed how involved he is within the whole trilogy, it's a bit of a bolt from the blue and I wished there was more clues to hint at his importance.

So, with the TV series coming to Sky One coming out at the end of the year and the companion novel - Time's Convert - following Matthew's son, Marcus, and his human fiancee, Phoebe, it's going to be interesting to see what happens next. Am pretty certain I am going to be reading Time's Convert and I kinda hope Deborah does write more companion novels on other characters within this world (I would love there be the novels about Galloglass, Ysabeau and Phillipe, and Fernando).

While this trilogy isn't exactly perfect, I had a great time listening to the three audiobooks and and am intrigued to see what Deborah Harkness does next...

Friday, 9 March 2018

YAShot 2018 - Captive In Your Light

I am thrilled to be today's stop on this year's chock-ful YAShot, and I'm really excited to welcome Annalie Grainger on the blog.

Annalie is the author of two YA thrillers, Captive and Into the Light. Captive follows Robyn, daughter of one of the master powerful men in the world, and what happens to her when she gets kidnapped. And Into The Light, Annalie's upcoming release (3rd May and you can follow the drama on social media under the hashtag #InYourLight), follows Lil who is desperate to find her missing sister, but when she crosses path with Alice, a young woman desperate to escape the seemingly peaceful community, Lil can't help but wonder if Alice knows what happened to her sister? And she can't help but wonder why Alice is so frightened...

I am quite excited over this post as it's a little different for me. As myself and the lovely Eve were chatting about ideas for YAShot, I mentioned an idea similar to "8 Questions in 8 Minutes", and something just clicked with us both. While the idea has changed slightly, we wanted to keep the idea as much as we can.

So, to everyone at YAShot, Annalie and Eve, thank you so much for all your help, ideas and just being your wonderful selves! I know how busy you all are at the moment so you all having times to deal with me is awesome so thank you.

Now, before I hand you all over to my questions and Annalie's answers, just gonna give you all the links to go if you want to find out more details about the lovely author and this lovely event! You can check out Annalie's website at ajgrainger.com & her twitter is @_AJGrainger, and if you want to check out YAShot, their website is yashot.com and their twitter is @yashortmediateam.

Now, onto past me and Annalie.

Wednesday, 7 March 2018

The Witch's Blood - How To Build A Fantasy World

I am thrilled and honoured to be involved with the Witch's Blood blog tour, and to have Katharine and Elizabeth Corr back on the blog. They are a hoot and a half on Twitter so to have them back is a delight!

I did hope to have Witch's Blood read by now but real life has thrown me through a reading loop "ARGH!" so I haven't read the third and final book at the moment. Actually, at the time of writing notes for how am going to introduce my stop, I am halfway through Witch's Tears and basically am trying very hard not to tweet Katharine and Elizabeth with the words "WHAT ARE YOU DOING TO MY POOR BABIES?!"

But I won't. So, without trying to spoil myself, all I can say is: how far will Merry go with her magic to save someone she loves? And given the chaos she and the people around her created, what will she have to sacrifice to set things right?

Before I hand it over to Katharine and Elizabeth, two quick things: First, if you want to check out Elizabeth and Katharine on Twitter (and why wouldn't you?), check them out at @lizcorr_writes@katharinecorr. And to them both, thank you both for including me in this tour!

Thursday, 1 March 2018

Pick My Next Read Month

I must be an idiot to decide to do this but ha-ho!

I like doing polls on Twitter, asking you guys to pick my next read. And you guys have excellent taste. So, earlier this year, I decided that I wanted to do again. But more. I wanted to do a month's worth.

So, after I made that decision and did the poll you see above (and was really glad you guys chose March), I get plotting over what books am going to pick, style, genre, age range, etc. Then went "Sod it!" and am going to go by the seam of my pants and just pick books for polls that will make me smile.

Hopefully, this month's reading is going to be exciting, fun and full of goodness. There might be one book I have to read no matter what (my buddy read had to be pushed back a month. Our timing's basically suck!) so this might carry over a few weeks into April (though I have said am reading something at the start of April due to possible holiday).

But, to get me started, I did a poll last week on which book that gonna kickstart this month. And it came down to these four...

Now, am writing this post a week ahead of myself so (at time of writing), I have no idea who's gonna win and who am going to read but I can not wait! 


Wednesday, 28 February 2018

Books And Their Theme Songs - December 2017, January and February 2018

Welcome back to another Books And Their Theme Songs post. As you know, I love reading books with music, even the books I decided to DNF. But with me changing jobs recently and my sudden addiction to random podcasts (and no audiobooks! I WOULD KILL TO LISTEN TO A KICKASS AUDIOBOOK!), this post might be a tad shorter than I like. But ha, at least am discovering and trying new things out! 

So, enough of my jibber-jabber (we all know where this is going), let's get onto the music! 

THE LAST MRS PARRISH by Liv Constantine (DNF)
"Gained the World" by Morcheeba & "Snakes" by Deva Mahal

"Whatever You Want" by P!nk

SHADOW OF NIGHT by Deborah Harkness
"Feather Jesus" and "Ursa Minor" by Fassine

THE WITCH'S TEARS by Katharine and Elizabeth Corr
"Cold Hard Truth" by Nelly Furtado

Tuesday, 27 February 2018

Book Review - The Witch's Tears

My plan was to read The Witch's Tears and the third/final book in the trilogy, The Witch's Blood, before March hit. But, sadly, I failed. Mainly because I overwhelmed myself with reading/audiobooks this past month and I have kinda hit a wall with reading fantasy. It's hard to read Witch's Tears when you are listening to Shadow of Night (review here) and Book of Life by Deborah Harkness while trying to find a work/home balance and other things have gone all in the air and unsettled me (I am like a cat. I like things a certain way and if anything messes that up...!). Because of all this, I have kinda hit a wall with reading fantasy so I need a mini-break from magic for a book or two (though I have shot myself in the foot a little due to timing - you'll find out on the 1st March)...

Getting back on track, The Witch's Tears. This is the second book in the Witch's Kiss trilogy and takes place several months after the events of Witch's Kiss. Merry is struggling. Struggling with being a teenage witch, struggling with all the textbooks and rules the coven are setting for her, struggling with her grief over Jack's death, and struggling over what to do with her older brother Leo. Leo is falling apart and every time Merry tries, it pushes him further and further away. She doesn't know what to do anymore...

Then two strangers arrive in town, both getting involved in Merry and Leo's lives. Then Leo and Merry's grandmother vanishes and the rules of the coven no longer seem important. Rules are made to be broken... right?

Like I said earlier, I have hit a wall with fantasy because I overloaded myself, but I must say I do like this series. I like that while this does feel dark, it reads quite light and fluffy. This is a series I would happily read on the beach. I like the characters (even when I wanted to shake them and shout "FOR THE LOVE OF -! USE YOUR WORDS AND OPEN YOUR EYES!") and whenever I read this for ten/fifteen minutes, it felt easy and fun, even when the book was dark.

Now, if you have read my review of Witch's Kiss last year (review here), you know I said that it had faults. While some of the faults were addressed, some are still there. It did still feel a bit skeletal at times and I saw things coming miles away (I do this all the time). Plus, there were one or two moments while reading, I kinda wish it was pushed a little further, give us a bit of grit and darkness. This book does touch on some dark magic and dark issues that could have been good place to go darker, but I get why the authors's decided not to do that.

Plus, the pacing might annoy you guys. It's a little slower than Witch's Kiss, if my memory serves me right. It's more pin-pricks of "Something wicked this way comes", but the last 100 or so pages, the book picks the pace and I fly through the book.

This trilogy does have faults and it's more preteen/clean teen compared to most YA I need, but I do enjoy reading this trilogy, and once I get out of my fantasy funk, I will be diving straight into Witch's Blood.

Monday, 26 February 2018

Reading Some Kindle Samplers

As you guys know, I love downloading eBook samplers onto my iPhone, and I do this for a number of reasons: because I want to see if I'm going to like it, to remind me to buy a book, because it had a pretty cover (yes, I am that vain).

So, one Sunday a week or so ago, after my cat woke me up at 6:15 in the morning (he's started doing this recently and I can't decide if this is a good thing or not), I decided to actually read some of my samplers and see how I felt about them. Some were entire chapters, some were a few pages, but I wanted to see if I liked the story, writing or tone and then decide if I would consider reading them in the future. And because my reading tastes are growing and I want to push myself, the choices of Kindle Samplers I read are here, there and everywhere so let's get started...

Friday, 23 February 2018

Popular Books I Haven't Read

You can blame Zoe from No Safer Place for this. I watched the above video and was nodding along to some of the title and went "Yep, I haven't read that book but I WANT TO" or "No interest to read whatsoever". After watching this, I was tweeting Zoe (@zcollins1994) and another book blogger, Liam (@notsotweets) and talking about how cool this idea was and I wanted to do this on the blog because every reader is different tastes and the book blogger shame (or something similar to these thoughts) and both Zoe and Liam went "Go for it!". 

So, here I am. I'm going to pick a handful of popular books that I haven't read for one reason or another (five, I think. Five seems like a good number!) so... let's get started! 

Tuesday, 20 February 2018

Audiobook Review - Shadow of Night

If some of you can remember that far back into time, I listened to the the audiobook version of A Discovery of Witches back in the old days of when this blog was a baby book blog (2011. I checked). I liked it, but I didn't love it due to one reason or another (length and writing style. Plus Matthew and the amount of tea/wine he and Diana drunk - for some reason, this really bugged me!). Then, late last year, I decided to relisten to the audiobook and, while those problems were still there (though, not the tea and the wine problem. I saw past that the second time round), I think I enjoyed it more on second listen. And I decided that I would read/audiobook the rest of the trilogy.

And that didn't happen. I suck. Until Audible deleted a credit I had spare. I was given an extra credit for review by mistake and I hadn't used it. Actually, I think I forgot I had it till it went away. After chatting with Audible (who were super nice), they gave it back to me and I went "Ok, I have to use this. What do I really want? And I want something with length." And I remembered this trilogy and went "I have to buy them both!"

So, on 31st January, I bought Shadow of Night and Book of Life, and started Shadow of Night on the 1st February. And finished it on Thursday 15th February - so super fast for me with audiobooks!

After the events of A Discovery of Witches, where witches, daemons and vampires live hidden from humans and a fragile peace between the three species is being to break when Diana Bishop discovers a bewitched manuscript - Ashmole 782 - at the Bodlein Library which was thought lost for centuries. When a power struggle to reclaim the book between vampires, witches and daemons, Diana finds herself falling for vampire Matthew Clairmont, where interspecies relationships is forbidden.

Seeking safety, the two timewalk back to 1790 to find Ashmole 782 and to find witches who can teach Diana her magic. But with Matthew having to reclaim his old life of poet and spy for Queen Elizabeth I, the two might have to stay longer than they expected... And if they do, what damage will they cause in the present?

Ok, where do I begin with this? It's good. I enjoyed myself hugely while listening to this. It's not perfect - I do have problems with it but I enjoyed myself and am a little addicted to seeing where this series goes.

You can tell the the author is a historian because of the detail she puts in and how layered the characters (both major and minor) and the world around them is. And this works both for and against the story/series (more on that later). The story moves quite nicely and I got caught up in it and became a little addictive to it. Whenever I had a free moment, I would try and listen to the audiobook (and luckily, I can do that at work, hence why I sped through this quite quickly). It also gave insight into Matthew's history as he is a vampire who has lived over a good few centuries, which was interesting up-to-a-point (again, more on this later), which was an eye-opener for Diana.

Plus, I enjoyed listening to this due to the characters - I adore Gallowglass and I would love to read a book solely about him (he seems like a hot DILF - I mean, cool character - to read). Same goes with Phillipe - Matthew's father. He intrigues me and I would like to read more about him and Matthew's mother, Ysabeau. I do feel this book is more character driven compared to A Discovery of Witches, which while still character driven, did have a plot pushing the book forward.

There's something about this book and this series I hugely enjoy, but that's not the say that there wasn't problems. There were problems. And I have read and watched reviews on Goodreads, Amazon and YouTube and some I do agree with. The book is LONG. The audiobook I listened to is over 24 hours long and this is because of Deborah's writing. It's full of details, descriptions, side-characters and plots that aren't needed. If some of these were removed, the story would have been shorter and the reader wouldn't have lost anything. This problem existed in A Discovery of Witches and I sense will still be here in Book of Life and the newly announced Time's Convert (A companion novel following a side-character, Marcus - another character I really enjoyed reading in A Discovery of Witches). I get why she's writes these details, to immerse us in the world she's creating, but there are moments and chapters where it feels like the details are more important than the plot.

But my biggest issue within this is Mathew. Now, I admire that while I have got swept away with the romance between Diana and Matthew within Discovery of Witches and in this book, I have huge problems with Matthew. I get he is a problematic character - he reminds Diana over and over again that vampires are possessive over their lovers, there were several huge occasions I went "This feels borderline emotional/mental domestic abuse". Add into this that Matthew seems to be involve in every historical event of importance and Diana discovering that Matthew suffers from an vampire illness called Blood Rage (I understand what it is, but have no idea how to explain), there was a good amount of this audiobook where I disliked Matthew hugely.

I get the feeling that this series is going to get a very similar reaction to me reading/audiobook The Queen of the Tearling series by Erika Johansen. Yes, there are problems and things I don't like, but I enjoy reading/listening to this series and am having a blast sinking my teeth into a fantasy series that has meat on the bone.

Maybe this is a sign of my reading taste changing and me growing up (SURELY NOT?!), but I hope to have listened to the audiobook of the third and final book in the trilogy, The Book of Life, before Easter, and with Sky One turning the series into a TV drama event, we shall see where they go with the series...

Thursday, 15 February 2018

#re3 - Mortal Engines

I'm not whether to class this as a book review or a #re3. Because I have read this once before. But it has been over ten years and I can tell you when and where I read this (but I won't due to personal reasons and I don't want the first paragraph within this post to be black and heavy). 

So, why did I decide to reread this? I've been toying with rereading this but the past few months due to the series celebrating its 15th anniversary, and with the movie coming out later this year, it piped my interest. So when I saw it a few months back being 99p, I knew it was time. 

In the future, cities are no one set in one place. They move. They roam. They eat smaller cities. London used to be one of the cities that small cities fear, but it's been in hiding. Now, it's roaming again, and its mayor have sinister plans, and third-class apprentice Tom finds himself caught up in it when he sees an assassin try to kill London's Head Historian, Valentine. When he corners the assassin, he discovers an angry, scarred teenage girl who shouts "Ask him what he did to Hester Shaw!" before she jumps down a waste chute. Within minutes, Tom is falling down that same chute, pushed by Valentine... 

And London is racing across the Hunting Ground towards an unknown goal and something is hunting Shaw... 

So, how do I feel about this? Well... kinda the same as I did when I read it the first time round over ten years ago. I liked the idea but I struggled with the execution and the writing style. 

I'm not sure what else I can say about my feeling on it. I really liked this idea of cities being on wheels and moving, eating others. I haven't heard any other books do this or take it to the extreme that Philip Reeve did. And there were elements in here I hooked onto to - the character of Shrike I found fascinating and wanted to know more about him. 

But, there were tings that didn't work for me. There were times I didn't click with the writing. I don't know if it was the writing style or the tone of the book I didn't gel with, but I didn't connect to it in the way I would have liked. And because of this things happened that made me tilt my head and go "That feels odd". Some of the characters and their relationships felt odd at times - rushed in places. I know this was meant to be a standalone novel when it was first published and then it was turned into a four book series, but the relationships ad character developments in this felt off. 

It's a mixed bag for me. I know people who have read this and adore Mortal Engines and the books that follow in this series and its prequel trilogy. But not everyone is going to love the same book so I am at peace with my feelings towards this. Will I consider reading the second book in the series, Predator's Gold? Maybe... It really depends on my mood and on my TBR, which at the moment is all over the place due the events happening behind the scenes... So, we shall see... 

Sunday, 11 February 2018

Scholastic #BloggersBookFeast 2018

I should be watching Riverdale as I write this late last night. I promised Scholastic, several bloggers and authors that I will be watching one or two episodes as I write this.

But, I have so much to tell you guys and I know this is going to take some time (and I have been playing on my phone/YouTube for over several hours and stressing about being a grown-up so I need to focus and get this done).

Saturday just gone was my second blogger event of the year - and I had to make plans with my work so I can go (I work some Saturdays - hence why I was staring at my phone most of the day as even though I muted WhatsApp, I could sense the messages piling up and I don't know how to remove that little red circle that pops up on the corner of the app!). So, after driving to train station near my work (work was borrow my mode of transport till I can afford a car and because my regular train line is a replacement bus service for the next few weekends), I was whizzed to London one cold, wet Saturday. And after going "OOOH!" over Tower of London (it was right next to Fenchurch Street station - plus am audiobooking Shadow of Night by Deborah Harkness!) and taking my time to get to event, I got to Scholastic and MY BLOGGER FAMILY WERE THERE!!!

Oh, blogger family, I missed seeing you. And for some of you, it's been too longer!

I should go and reference them, shouldn't I? But there was too many - but more on that and them a little later as I have plans with one or two of them and am planning to steal some of their instagram pics.

Anyway, once we were all in the conference room, the lovely ladies at Scholastic started the presentations of some of their titles that are coming out this year. And most/all of them caught our attention in one form or another and made us go "We need to buy this as soon as it comes out!". Now, I'm not going to reference them all (there is going to be a load of pics/blog posts/vlogs about this, me thinks) so I am going to talk to you guys about the titles that caught my attention and made me sit up a little straighter (even though my TBR is currently hating my guts and going "WHY AREN'T YOU READING ME YET?! DON'T YOU KNOW WHO I AM?!")

The first title is Shell by Paula Rawsthorne. Now, I have the proof for this since the end of last year and it came wrapped in bandages so I know it's going to be interesting. Lucy is diagnosed with terminal cancer. You don't survive that. Expect Lucy does. She wakes up one morning to find herself cancer-free. But there's a big catch. She's no longer in her own body. While she slept her brain and eyes were removed out of her body into someone else's, and now she is no longer Lucy. In this modern nod to Mary Shelley's Frankenstein (published 200 years ago this year), Lucy begins to wonder how far you go for the people you love? And if there's a line you must never cross...

Second is State of Sorrow by Melinda Salisbury. This is the first book in her new duology and I have already got this on preorder (and Scholastic knows that nearly every blogger in the room wanted to read this) so this is going to be fun. Deliciously dark with complex fantasy world-building, we enter a kingdom which is still grieving for Sorrow's older brother who died days before she was born. She has the govern this kingdom and, when it gets too much, find comfort in the arms of the boy she's in love with. But when a stranger comes forward and claims he is her dead brother, Sorrow is taken aback. This boy wants to claim the throne, but is he really her brother or an imposter? And what is she going to do - stand aside or fight for the throne, even though it's the last thing she wants to do?

Another preorder book that was talked about here was Noah Could Never by Simon James Green. Sequel to Noah Can't Even, I was bouncing when this popped up on the screen and tried not to bully Simon since I finished reading Noah Can't Ever with tweets such as "There's going to be more kissing, right Simon?" or "If you hurt my babies, I swear to Lucifer!". (There is more kissing in the book, Simon said there was in the presentation and practically pointed me out by going "Him! Blame him!"). Taking place around two months after Noah Can't Even, Noah and Harry are dating (hooray!). But Noah is struggling to see what Harry sees in him. He's nothing compared to the sexy French exchange student, Pierre Victorie, who has his eye on Harry. Plus, the police are monitoring Noah, but he's not exactly sure why. Because of his dad and his secret half brother trying to steal his Gran's fake diamonds? Because of his PE teacher who's getting mysterious payouts? Or because drag queen Bambi Sugapops is hiding out at Noah's house while in the midst of a bare-knuckle, knock out drag feud? And when you throw in the mix Noah wondering if he's ready to take the next step in his and Harry's relationship, it's going to be a funny, cringey and warm story (it's better be!)

Your Turn to Die by Sue Wallman. Ok, I haven't read her last thriller (IT'S ON MY TBR!) but Sue is a wonderful author and I adore her, so I have to mention this. Plus, this book sounds AMAZING! A dark and twisty thriller, this follows the teens of three families who, every New Year, go on holiday together in an old countryside house. But the teens discover a terrible secret - a deathbed confession led the police to a body of a teenager who went missing 50 years ago. As the teens begin to dig up the past, strange accidents happen round the house. If they're not careful, this new year will simply be their last...

Speaking of thrillers, Night of the Party by Tracey Mathias is getting a lot of buzz as the "Brexit thriller of the year". Set in the near future when the UK leave the EU, we meet Ash who is grieving the lost of his sister. When he meets Zara, he falls her fast and hard. But Zara has secrets. Secrets she can never tell. Not only is she an "Illegal" - a person who wasn't born in the UK, meaning her and her family would be arrest and deported without question - but she knows the truth about how Ash's sister died. To tell would put her and her family in danger, but staying quiet could ruin everything between her and Ash. With an general election looming, it will either save them or bring disaster in its wake...

I have another thriller for you. Neverworld Wake by Marisha Pessl is a hard one to explain but it sounds so messed-up, I'm going to try. Five friends reunite a year after graduation, but during a night out, they narrowly avoid a collision with other car. When they get back to one of their houses, a mysterious man knocks on the day and tells the something that shatters their world. The friends must make a choice: one of them will live and others must die. And it must be unanimous. Then the mind games of Neverworld Wake begin...

Let's chat one more book as you all are probably screaming at me "WHY HAVEN'T YOU MENTIONED THE SURFACE BREAKS BY LOUISE O'NEILL?!". So, The Surface Breaks by Louise O'Neill is the feminist reimagining of The Little Mermaid. There's not much else I can say. I think most of us are intrigued over how Louise is going to write this and what she does... Will have to wait till May to find out...

And, of course, I could go on and mention the other jaw-droopingly yummy books I think you guys will love: The Light Jar by Lisa Thompson (a hopeful middle-grade touching on some dark issues), Tender by Eve Ainsworth (who I am ashamed to admit I have never read, but her books are topical and this is no exception, tackling the issue of young carers), Spark by Alice Broadway (sequel to Ink, which I haven't read yet! I only just got a copy of it today!), Twister by Juliette Forrest (mainly because of the cover. It's divine!), Sky Painted Gold by Laura Wood (imagine I Capture a Castle meets The Great Gatsby and you got it!), the sequel to Hayley Barker's Showstopper (I can't remember if the title was revealed or not but I haven't read Showstopper - you can blame me DNFing another fantasy book set in a circus for putting me off reading this. But I feel ready to hunt down a copy again) and A Storm of Ice and Stars by Lisa Lueddecke (prequel to A Shiver of Snow and Sky - again, another book I have but not read. Wow, I suck at this book blogger lark, don't i?!) And there is probably a ton more that I missed or I can't read my appalling handwriting to

But it didn't end there! Oh no! After that, we had Simon James Green, Laura Wood and Lisa Thompson read tiny extracts from their upcoming novels and we all went "OOOOH!" over them. The editors and designers chatted about their jobs and how the process of the job. And then, we had a panel with all the authors - Alice Broadway, Paula Rawsthorne, Traey Mathias, Eve Ainsworth, Sue Wallman, Simon James Green, Lisa Thompson and Laura Clarewood - all chatting about how they write, why they write and advice they give to aspiring authors. And, after that, a tiny quiz to put our YA book brains through our paces (and to highlight that I haven't read Malorie Blackman's Noughts and Crosses... but by the year of this year, I will damnit!)

And after that, it was time to leave (though I was dragged out. I was trying to make Simon James Green and Eve Ainsworth co-author a comedy horror together and trying to hide in the corner, going "Shhh. If they don't know I'm here, Scholastic will have to give me a job!"), and once was given a goodie bag (which I always feel odd about taking. I feel like I just turn up to steal books!) which contained a beautiful new edition of Philip Pullman's Northern Lights and a proof of Neverworld Wake (and I was kindly given a copy of Alice Broadway's Ink and Juliette Forrest's Twister as well).

And once we were kicked out of the building, a bunch of us bloggers decided to have lunch at a nearby Nandos (we're a classy lot. But, if you ever want us, bribe us with books and food, and we'll love you). If I can find photos on other bloggers's Instagram, I will embed in this post.

I can't explain the pout in that photo. I was trying to be funny and I look like a camp goldfish...

Now, before I go, I just want to thank everyone at Scholastic for the event. It was wonderful and I had such fun. Plus, it's always a lovely thrill/honour to be invited. Thank you - and I am sorry for the email you're going to get in the next few days... 

Friday, 9 February 2018

A Body Image Query

I don't own a full-length mirror or bathroom scales.

Yes, I know that's a weird way to start a blog post but bear with me. It will all make sense in the end.

A few years back, I wrote one of my fave blog post - mainly because it took so long to research and write up - which talked about sex educations in schools and wondering if it's a little outdate and should be updated to tackle consent, physical and mental health, asking whether TV programmes and soap opera should talk more openly about safe sex and STD, and on body image.

I am hugely proud of this post and have always gone "There's stuff in here I want to talk further on" but never really gave it much thought. Till November of last year. I was on holiday in the Lake District and, when I was on the hotel's wifi/4G, I checked my instagram for some stupid reason and saw three photos of people I follow being shirtless and doing gym progress in very quick succession.

And I felt... It's hard to explain, but I felt... off... 

Now, I am not saying "How dare these people post these images!". I have nothing against these pictures and yes, some pictures I have seen on here since then are hot, but I have moments when I look at myself and go "God, I wish I had more muscles in my arms, chest, stomach...". A little while later, I'm usually fine. I like my body. Ok, I didn't love it - I never love my body, but I accepted it and was enjoying eating delicious food and not thinking about my mental wobble over my body image.

A few hours/days later, I kept thinking about those images - no, let's rephrase that. I keep thinking about my reaction to those images, trying to figure out why I felt inadequate and uncomfortable in my own skin, wondering why this was a big deal and why wasn't I not letting this issue drop. I kept circling back to it. If I dislike the way I looked, why don't I do something about it? Well, I like my body and I don't want to. I like my body... I think.

See. It's the I Think that got to me. Where did that come from?

I've had this I like my body, I think feeling for a good few years. Years and years ago, I went to Alton Towers/Blackpool with a bunch of old college friends. The place we were staying in had a swimming pool and on the last day, we thought we would try it out. We changed and out of the four of us, I was the one with my arms crossed over my chest and stomach while the others didn't. And here's the thing: I was the skinniest one out of the four. So why did I react like this?

Now, I am not an expert in this. I'm not, but is it the world around this? Or is it all in my heads?

Sadly, I wonder if it's both. We're told from a very young age that if you don't look or behave a certain way, you are not pretty or handsome or good enough.

We see this in books, TV, magazines, films, fairy tales. And now, we have the internet and social media that give us a snapshot of the "perfect life". Which we all know can not be real... but we kinda want it to be?

This is a really weird and complex thing to talk about. Because every time I think I have a handle on it or understand it, something new always creeps up or I talk myself round in a circle.

In magazines, models are told to look a certain way and even when they do, they are photoshop. In TV shows and films, if the person looks hot, they are shirtless or wearing very little to remind us of this - how many times in Game of Thrones, Neighbours, Hollyoaks, or a Marvel movie (for example) have we see the "hot" actor shirtless? Am sure in nearly every Chris Hemsworth movie I own or watch, he either is shirtless or in a very tight top in the pouring rain at least once.

And on the internet (let's include social media in this as well), it's so easy to find pictures or video of good looking people. Porn is just a click away and most porn actors fit one of several looks to fit your fantasies. And the same with social media - I follow some people on social media who do fitness and I like following them. It was only in November (and then one every few weeks since then), when I liking their pictures that I go "Huh... am I follow you because I like you and your content, or am I following you because you're good-looking? Am I that shallow and vain?"

Maybe this is the wall I keep coming up again. This idea that we have become a vain society. I don't think we are vain, but are we, on some level, lusting after these ideals of what perfect is and, unless you have the time, money and will-power, we will never get it.

Also, you might have noticed I wrote and in my own head. Well, I kind of a pessimist. Am trying to get better at this, but I have doubts all the time. That I'm not good enough. Good enough son/brother/lover/uncle/friend/etc. And this pessimism creeps over into other things. That I'm not good looking enough, not smart enough, not book blogger enough. I always say at blogger events that I feel like I'm a fraud, waiting for someone to realise that I'm not meant to be there and will be exposed for the liar that I am.

Which made me wonder if this is how it works. A bit like a vicious circle. If we doubt ourselves, then do outside forces make us doubt ourselves and our worth more? Or does some outside force make itself known to us and then, because of this, we begin to doubt ourselves?

I know I have probably opened a huge can of worms and I can't answer them. But I wanted to get this off my chest and out of my system because, if I don't, it will just sit in my head and it will eat away at my brain (I started writing this at the end of December and keep editing it since then so you know it's one of those mental things that I won't stop thinking about). So... apologies for the rambling. And maybe now, I can look at this more and try to take this quote to heart (I love it and I agree with it, but me putting it into practice is a little harder...)

[Sorry for the bad language]

Wednesday, 7 February 2018

Why I No Longer Will Do Reviews For Blog Tours

This has been a quiet rule I have had in the past. Never felt the need to do this, but I have got unstuck once of two recently and I wanted to write this and explain why.

People, when I do a blog tour, I normally ask that I don't do a review for the tour. Now, like I said before, I have been unstuck so I have had to write a review for the tour and (thankful!), I have enjoyed reading the book (either certain aspects or the whole thing) so writing the review for the tour has been a breeze. But, I just want to make it public so everyone knows and we're on the same page.

I don't like doing reviews for blogs tours, therefore I won't be doing them anymore.

I will happily do most things for blog tours - I love doing a blog tour! I love following them on blogs I adore and going "OOOOH!" over them. I get a strange thrill every time I get an email in connection to blog tour am involved in and I read/devour the post I'm meant to be posting for my stop long before I schedule/post them. I love being involved with blog tours where I can go "YOU GUYS! WE NEED TO TALK ABOUT THIS BOOK! IT'S SO GOOD!!!"

But reviews for blog tours... er... this is where I get a little uneasy over them...

Ok, I do have reasons. The main reason is pressure of what if. What if I agree to do a review for a blog tour, start reading the book and hate the book am reading? I can't write a review for a book I don't like for a blog tour (the main aim of which is to be positive and to sell the book). So, I'm stuck. Do I continue reading a book I dislike? Do I write a review in which I feel like I'm lying or blurring the line between my opinion and what I'm expected to say? Do I go back to the publisher and go "Actually... we need something else" and in most case, it's too late?

There are other reasons, but, mainly, I don't want that pressure. And reading should be fun and a pleasure. Same goes with blogging. I want to be passionate about books and I want to talk about books that I read and gone "Wow! Oh wow!".

So, no more reviews for blog tours. I know I'm going to shoot myself in the foot as some blog tours I have been connected with over the past few weeks via email have been "review only" and I flat-out said no. But I don't feel comfortable writing a review for a blog tour.

So, am making this public so I can't go back on myself. I love being involved in blog tours and I will continue to, but not a review blog tour.

Monday, 5 February 2018

DNFing The Last Mrs Parrish

I don't like DNFing books or ebooks. I feel like I'm betraying the story and the work the authors put in.

But sometimes, dear reader, things happen either within the book or in the real world that makes you go "I don't want to read this" and so, you put it down and walk away.

And that's, sadly, what I did with The Last Mrs Parrish late last year. Yes, I have held-off telling you guys about it for a while as I wondered if I should tell you guys or not.

Now, before I go any further, mini disclaimer (not sure why am putting this down as it's an unspoken rule on this blog): everyone is allowed to have different tastes. Just because I didn't like this, doesn't mean you won't. You might like this so don't let me "I stopped here and here's why" put you off this book if you want to read this.

Now, before we go forward, let me explain that, I liked the writing and the good chunk of the story. The way I described this to my Other Half was its "bats*** addictive". I mean, why the main character was doing what she was doing and the level of crazy she was putting into her master plan was really compelling. It read a bit like a crazy US drama like Scandal or How To Get Away With Murder. I gobbled it up.

So, I hear you ask, why did you DNF this if it was addictive reading? Well... all throughout the first part of the book, there were tiny breadcrumbs that the perfect marriage - the marriage the main character wanted for herself - wasn't so perfect. That all that glittered wasn't gold. I spotted them very quickly so when we got into the second part, told from the wife's point of view, I was aware and went "Ok, there's might be a physical/emotional abuse here, so be on your guard". And while I saw it, something else happened. An element of another trigger warning happened - a sexual assault - and I won't read that. I have things I will not read and rape is one of them. That is a no go for me.

As soon as I saw that, I went "I'm done. I enjoy the writing, but I don't like this. I'm done."

And what's worse, is that I was a good way into the book. 63%. But I feel that I couldn't enjoy this the way I wanted to now this element was add. I know it was going to be addressed as this book got compared to Gone Girl, The Girl On The Train and Big Little Lies. But this wasn't for me.

So, for my own self, I put it down and decided to read something completely opposite from it.

Now, here's the thing. I liked the writing, I like the crazy within the plot and I feel that some of you guys will like it. I mean, I had the authors on my blog a few weeks ago, that's how much I liked this writing. But I had to take a step back from it due to that and read something else.

Not sure if this puts me in the publisher's bad books but reading should be fun and if you want to read this, go forth and read this!

Thursday, 1 February 2018

#re3 - The Forgotten

I am blaming Better Words podcast for this.

So, I was listening to a random episode when the hosts, Michelle and Caitlin, were chatting about podcasts they listen to. One of them mentioned a recent discovery - The Babysitters Club Club - and how it was funny, thoughtful and cool to hear two guys reread and chat about the book series. Now, I have fallen out of love with my recent podcast obsessions (so much so, I had unsubscribed to several of my faves - Nightvale, No Such Thing As Fish, etc) and scared of going near news/comedy based shows (Brexitcast and Friday Night Comedy from BBC Radio 4), I thought I would give this a whirl. But I didn't. I never read Babysitters Club so wasn't sure if I would enjoy it. So, I wondered what books I read when I was younger. And the answer jumped into my head very quickly: didn't I go through a year-long phase of reading KA Applegate's Animorphs? And look, there's two Animorphs podcasts you can listen to - Thought-Speak and Morph Club.

So, after binging random episodes of Animorphs books I never read (my obsession lasted a year and I think I quit the series halfway though the David trilogy so around book 21/22), I thought What if. A dangerous question but what if this series was super awesome and stupid preteen me quit too soon? Shouldn't I go back and see if it holds up? So, probably against my better judgement, I bought a very battered second-hand copy of the first Animorphs book I ever read: The Forgotten (aka book 11 of the series).

Ok, before I go further, history lesson time! Animorphs was a sci-fi series, written between 1996 to 2001-ish) about five preteens (well, at the start of the series) seeing a spaceship crash and, after trying to save the alien's life, gaining the power to morph. This power comes with a huge problems as these five are the only ones that can stop a secret alien invasion of the Yeerks coming to take over the planet. The series was written under the pen-name KA Applegate (which was wife and husband duo, Katherine Applegate and Michael Grant) and then, around book 25, was ghostwritten (though Applegate gave highly detailed outlines for each book).

Apparently, Scholastic tried to reboot the series in 2011 with new covers and update some pop culture reference but, due to poor sales, they stopped this after republishing the eight book in the series, The Alien. Since then, this series has been out of print and can only get second hand.

And with that out of the way, The Forgotten. The eleventh book in the series (and told from Jake's POV), we follow the Animorphs who discover someone crashed a Yeerk spaceship. But the Animorphs decide to try and get he spaceship and show Earth that they are being invaded. But with Jake getting weird flashes of something, the Animorphs and some of the Yeerks (including the leader of the invasion, Visser Three) find themselves in another place, another time, and with little to no way of getting home...

I read this in two hours. It wasn't that taxing and it was nice to read something I could switch my brain off to. And I get why my preteen self enjoyed reading this. It was fast paced, and it was fun to read. We had kids and aliens transforming into animals and fighting back against aliens.

But, my 30-something year old self does go "You know, if this series was going to do a true reboot, then this book would be much longer than 170-odd pages, the type would be smaller and the plot would be much much darker".

I think there has been a definite change in stories and their tone from when this was first published (in the UK, 1998) and now (2018 - 20 years gap!). The books would have been longer, darker, gritter and maybe not so long a series run (Animorphs ran for 52 books and this doesn't include the spinoff books such as Megamorphs, the Chronicles and Choose Your Own Anternamorphs [which I didn't know existed till researching this!]).

Although this was a nice nostalgia read (I did buy another secondhand book from another KA Applegate series, Everworld - because, apparently, I have more money then sense), it shows how much I have grown and changed as a reader over the past *mumbles so no-one hears exact number* years.

Monday, 29 January 2018

Book Review - Complete Sookie Stackhouse Stories

Not sure how I heard of this (chatting to Stevie at Gollancz or seeing the US edition on NetGalley), but as soon as I did, I knew I wanted to read it. A complete collection of all Sookie Stackhouse short stories - yes please! Plus, I have read a tiny handful of Charlaine Harris (3 novels and a collection of five short stories of Sookie Stackhouse and audiobook of the first Midnight, Texas trilogy) so I know her writing style and get on with it.

So, when Stevie emailed a month or so ago about this and another title (The Seventh Decimate by Stephen Donaldson), I jumped at them both! I have said that this year I want to read more adult fantasy but I knew that I could devour the stories set in Bon Temps.

Within this collection, we have ten short stories (ok, nine and one novella) that follow Sookie as she tackles the paranormal world, from investigating the murder of a fairy, discovering her cousin was a vampire to going to a wedding with her shapeshifter boss and remodelling her best friend's house. All have a supernatural twist in the tale.

To me, this is a better fitting farewell to the Sookie Stackhouse series then After Dead, which most fans really disliked. But seeing as I haven't read the complete series or After Dead, I can't comment but this felt like a fun collection.

There is a snag before I talk about each story quickly in turn. Five of the short stories - the first five, truth be told - have already been published in the a collection a good several years back called A Touch Of Dead (my review for that is here), so I you have already read or bought the book and going towards this, you have already ready five and are paying for the five you haven't read... Although all these stories have been published in other collections.

So... thoughts on the stories. I do want to go into each in turn but that would make this blog post boringly long so I won't. I am going to mention some of the stories I really liked and the ones that surprised me. That to me sounds more like fun.

Out of the ten, the novella Small-Town Wedding surprised me the most. I saw it was the only novella in the collection and groaned. I want fast, fun stories, I remember thinking to self when I read the introduction, not this! But once I started reading this, I didn't want it to end. I forgot how much I like Sookie and Sam's relationship (I don't know if they get together at the end of the book series. I kinda ship them but I'm not sure I want to read Dead Ever After as I feel I need to read the other books before can attempt that) and  I had fun with the story. But, there was a bit of a punch to this as with the political climate at the moment with race, same sex marriage and rallies/marches, this came close to home. But showing the important message that love is always more powerful than hate.

I also enjoyed reading If I Had A Hammer and Playing Possum, both of which featured characters I haven't met in my readings of Sookie so might have to backtrack a little on that front.

However, like with most collections of short stories, there are going to be some that don't grab you. And I have problems clicking with some. I liked the first half of Two Blondes, a short stories that explored Sookie's friendship with Pam but then, the story took a turn and I was doing a "Huh? WTF? Am I reading this right?". Though I liked Gift Wrap when I read A Touch of Dead, I reread this and I kept putting the book down. It was fun, but there was something about this story that didn't sit right with me. And, though I didn't warm to the last short story in the collection, In The Blue Hereafter, I get why. This story was written in third person (Sookie's stories are usually written in first) and it followed a character, Manfred Bernado (who we first met in another of Harris's series, Harper Connelly, and becomes one of the main characters in Harris's latter series, Midnight, Texas), who meets Sookie...

A mixed bag of Sookie Stackhouse stories, but it reminded me how much I enjoy reading this character and Charlaine's writing. I sense I might have to read a Sookie Stackhouse novel sometime this year (I keep leaning towards Dead Ever After, maybe another story... All Together Dead? Dead as a Doornail? Deadlocked? Club Dead?). Or maybe I should try the second book in the Midnight, Texas trilogy? Decisions, decisions...

Friday, 26 January 2018

Below Zero Blog Tour Review

Hi guys and welcome to today's post that co-insides with the Below Zero blog tour. Yep, it's my turn and I have a review for you! So bear with while I do a tiny write-up about the book itself.

When Zak's parents are called to go to Outpost Zero, a small Antarctic research base to help prepare a group of volunteers for a one-way trip to Mars, to help fix a problem with the drone Spiders that made, Zak and his sister go as well. But when they and their pilot get there, something is very wrong. The power is out, everyone who's meant to be living there has vanished and there are insect shells all over the floor. 

Then the pilot vanishes. 

Something is happening to Outpost Zero - something below the ice - and if they are not careful, Zak and his family might be the next to vanish... 

This was a surprisingly addictive little clean-teen thriller that, at times, had a feel of that Doctor Who episode - Kill The Moon - and those Doctor-less episodes such as Blink and Midnight. It had a good speed and with the chapters jumping back and forth in time and location (this does make sense when you read it), it kept me turning the pages. 

However, I do have one or two problems, (this is me - of course I'm going to nitpick! I can do this to my favourite novels and have no problems sleeping that night) most of which comes down to length. I wish this was a little longer. If it was, it could fleshed out and drawn out certain elements. Plus, with this having the vibe of being the first book in a series, having it a tad longer would, I feel, have worked in its favour. 

But this was fun little scifi thriller - very different from what I normally read (am a fantasy person) - and I will be intrigued to see where the author goes next with these characters...

Thursday, 25 January 2018

Mini Book Reviews - My Lazy Cat & I Am A Cat

If you guys know me, I love cats. I own a cat - Bagheera (he's not all black, sadly, to make him look like a panther), have a tonkinese cat patronus, according to Pottermore, and I sense I will be a cat in my next life...

Plus, I am a little addicted/obsessed to BBC One's Big Cats series (which is ending tonight and it's NOT FAIR!).

So, today seems to be the perfect time to review these two cat-themed picture books: My Lazy Cat by Christian Roussey and I Am A Cat by Galia Berstein.

My Lazy Cat follows a little girl and her cat, Boomer. Boomer is lazy, but she isn't. She does judo, yoga, swimming, biking, rugby, she has things to do. But one day, Boomer accidentally keeps the little girl from getting out of the door and she decides to stay with Boomer that day and enjoy herself at his pace...

I Am A Cat follows Simon, a house cat who encounters some big cats: Lion, Tiger, Panther, Puma and Cheetah. When he says he's a cat, the big cats laugh and say he's can't be a cat as he's too small. But as the story goes on, Simon shows the big cats that he's just like them...

I adore both of these pictures books. They are very different from each other and yet, both were simple and fun to read. Yes, I know they are picture books but I like the illustrations in both (My Lazy Cat looked like a young child has drawn it, which will make it relatable while I Am A Cat is crisp and strong, showing the cats off). Both stories are perfect for adults to read to child and, when they are older, for the children to read to themselves (though I Am A Cat might be easier to read than My Lazy Cat due to words per page and font).

Plus, the meaning behind each story is important. With My Lazy Cat, it shows that no matter how busy you are, it's important to have time to stop and take it easy. And with I Am A Cat, it shows that we have more in common then at first glance and celebrates individuality and community. And with everything that is happening in the world at the moment, both messages are hugely important.

Out of the two, I think I prefer I Am A Cat, but I think both books are perfect for the tiny humans in your lives.